The 10th annual UNITED Tribute Gala this weekend raised over $230,000 for the United Way of Denton County, surpassing $1 million total over the event’s 10 years.
Friends and supporters of United Way of Denton County gathered in socially distanced fashion at the grand ballroom at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center for the event on Saturday. The celebration recognized several companies, municipalities and individuals for their dedication to building a stronger Denton County during another difficult year in 2021, and two community dancers were crowned Champions of “Dancing with Our Stars,” according to a UWDC news release.
Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell presented the most prestigious award of the night to Michelle and Brian Cree, of Highland Village, who were honored as the 2021 Dr. Bettye Myers Humanitarian Awardees for their tireless work to build a stronger Denton County.
“This is truly humbling,” said Brian Cree. “What I want for United Way and Denton County nonprofits is the same thing I want for my businesses: greater revenue (donations), lower expenses and to mitigate risk.”
Other awardees of the night included: Allison Engineering Group – Leadership Giving Award; Morrison Milling – Rise UNITED Award | Midsize Company; Sawko & Burroughs, PC – Rise UNITED Award | Small Company; City of Carrollton – Trailblazer Award; First State Bank – 99% Award; and finally, Peterbilt Motors Company – Decades Award with General Manager Jason Skoog presenting United Way of Denton County CEO Gary Henderson with a ceremonial check for $455,363 raised during their United Way Employee Giving Campaign.
“As amazing as Peterbilt’s support is each year, they can’t do it alone,” Henderson said. “If you are part of the United Way fabric, think of your own stories. If you are not part of the United Way family, we need your help. Join Us.”
The featured entertainment of the evening was the crowd-favorite “Dancing with Our Stars” showcasing 11 couples from across Denton County who volunteered countless hours since October to learn a group and solo dance under the direction of Gladys Keeton, Professor Emeritus of Dance at Texas Woman’s University. Earning the Judges’ Choice Award for technical scores were Suzanne & Brian Danhoff, representing Denton Community Council of PTAs and Peterbilt. Votes from the audience – both at home and in the ballroom – crowned Kenya Lockett of Denton ISD and Joe Perez of the City of The Colony as Dancing Champions, taking home the coveted Mirror Ball Trophies.